Million-dollar gift kicks off Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra campaign, Mary Kunz Goldman, Buffalo News

Louis P. Ciminelli, the chairman of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s board of directors, is turning 60. And he is celebrating his milestone birthday in a big way – by giving the BPO a million dollars.

The gift, which was announced Wednesday at Kleinhans Music Hall at the start of the BPO’s season-opening gala concert, kicks off a fund-raising initiative called the Crescendo Campaign. The goal is to raise $30 million, which will push the BPO’s endowment past the $50 million mark.

The Crescendo Campaign aims to secure the orchestra’s financial future for years to come. It will also fund current operational needs and secure new planned gift commitments, the orchestra’s management said in a press release.

A challenge grant from the Tower Family Fund will also help jump-start the campaign. The group has pledged a $1 million gift if the BPO can secure another $1 million in contributions. A silent phase of the campaign has already brought in more than $17 million.

Ciminelli made his million-dollar gift in honor of BPO Executive Director Daniel Hart.

“The position of executive director, and Dan Hart in particular, is crucial to the health and well-being of this organization,” he said in a statement. “Sound fiscal management is critical to the BPO, and I know that with Dan in charge, the organization will be stable for many generations to come, for which I am forever grateful.”

Hart expressed his gratitude.

“It is our privilege to receive Louis Ciminelli’s tremendous and transformative gift,” he said. “His generosity is paving the way for our campaign. An increased, secured endowment will not only allow the BPO to expand its reach to the broader community, but allow us to approach our projects from a place of financial strength.”

The Crescendo Campaign will be co-chaired by Ciminelli and BPO Board of Trustees Vice Chair Angelo Fatta. It has immediate as well as far-reaching goals.

The BPO hopes the money will help expand its audience – particularly its young audience. The orchestra is planning to designate $10 million of the money raised to establish the Next Generation Education Fund. Plans include expanding the Music For Youth series, bringing more BPO musicians into classrooms, and assisting school districts with transportation to concerts.

BPO Music Director JoAnn Falletta expressed her hope that the initiatives will help younger audiences discover the beauty of classical music.

“I am especially pleased that our Crescendo Campaign will help us increase our commitment to education, and will build upon our musicians’ dedication to the young people of our region,” she said. “This endowment will help us share the beauty of music in a broader and more significant way, and help students learn about their environment – and about themselves – through the Buffalo Philharmonic.”

To make a gift or learn more information about the campaign, contact Katie Bates Johnson, Crescendo Campaign Coordinator, at 242-7828 or, or visit